Language Assistant Program

Each of our language programs select student assistants who work closely with language faculty liaisons to lead weekly conversation labs for specific language classes; to encourage students to speak the language at weekly language tables; and, in some cases, to organize events and activities to foster a sense of community through language practice and cultural celebrations.

Language mentors, also chosen by language programs, are available to students who choose to seek help in grasping the intricacies of learning a new language and becoming successful language learners.

Thanks to close collaboration between Residential Life, language faculty liaisons, and corresponding language assistants, students may also expand their linguistic and transcultural competence by electing to live on one of the language floors that are part of the current Language Living-Learning Communities.

Language assistants

Three students in the Italian Language Living Learning Community
Students in the Italian Language Living-Learning Community

Learning a language is not just learning grammar and vocabulary; it is learning new ways of seeing the world and discovering new communities from the inside. As students themselves, our language assistants readily relate to our students and, while not involved directly in the teaching of grammar, they motivate our students to engage in speaking the language and exploring new cultural perspectives and ways of thinking. Language assistants are available for Arabic, Chinese, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Russian and Spanish languages.

Language tables

The language tables are very informal weekly meetings, over lunch or dinner where students can practice speaking in the target language in a casual context with their language assistant(s) and faculty members.

Upcoming language tables


See all upcoming language tables and Q&As

Language mentors

Most languages taught at Mount Holyoke College have mentors who offer weekly Language Q&A sessions in the Language & Culture Commons.

Mentors have met the language departments' criteria for language proficiency. They are trained at the start of each semester and continue to develop their language assistance skills through guided reflection, exploration, and study activities.

Upcoming Mentor Q&As


Language assistant jobs

In order to reflect on and improve their personal performance, students hired as language assistants and mentors participate in training workshops and other program meetings throughout the year to develop their understanding of language acquisition and language teaching methods. These paid positions usually become available in the month of April for the following academic year. For more information, please contact Morena Svaldi. Current students may apply on JobX

Language assistants lead weekly conversation sessions for designated language classes, meeting on a regular basis with language faculty to closely coordinate the content of the conversation sessions with the language course curriculum. In addition, language assistants may be assigned other responsibilities in the department, including (but not limited to) assisting with cultural activities, such as language tables and other celebrations.

Language mentors are available to help students during scheduled Q&A drop-in hours in the Language Resource Center. While mentors do not correct assignments or edit papers, they do help students develop their own ability to self-correct. Mentors will engage in ongoing training to develop their mentoring abilities and understanding of second language acquisition.

Workshops are designed to prepare our language assistants and mentors from nine languages to create activities mostly for first and second-year language courses. Using pedagogical understanding gained during the workshops, participants learn effective ways of enriching conversation sessions with a variety of activities intended to help students make active use of vocabulary and grammar. This may involve the selection and use of authentic written, audio, audiovisual and visual materials, but in the case of language assistants, no direct “grammar instruction” per se is given. The overarching goal of all sessions is to promote interest in the languages and cultures under study through meaningful interactions, thus encouraging interpersonal and global understanding.

Faculty liaisons

Faculty liaisons work in close conjunction with language assistants regarding their work for their language programs. Further, in the case of departments with language floors, faculty liaisons serve on the Language Floor Advisory Board and collaborate with the Office of Residential Life to help shape policy and decisions regarding the language floors.

Department head(s)

Morena Svaldi

  • Faculty Director of the Language Assistant Program; Senior Lecturer in Italian

Department and affiliated faculty

Anouk Alquier

  • Lecturer in French

Mara Benjamin

  • Irene Kaplan Leiwant Professor of Jewish Studies

Daniel Brooks

  • Visiting Lecturer in Russian and Eurasian Studies

Esther Castro Cuenca

  • Senior Lecturer in Spanish
  • Spanish Language Program Director

Katy McNally

  • Visiting Assistant Professor in German Studies

Naoko Nemoto

  • Professor of Asian Studies
  • Chair of Asian Studies

Kyae-Sung Park

  • Five College Senior Lecturer in Korean
  • on leave fall 2024

Lisha Xu

  • Senior Lecturer in Asian Studies

Contact us

The Language Assistant program provides resources and training for the student language assistants that work for our language programs.

Morena Svaldi
  • Faculty Director of the Language Assistant Program; Senior Lecturer in Italian